Black Messiah – “Walls Of Vanaheim” (Trollzorn)
A well respected name at German festivals, Black Messiah have been going since the early 90s as a black metal band, and while retaining some aspects of that especially in Zagan’s harsh roars and dry screams, these days they play a strong viking / pagan style also including fiddles and mandolins. “Walls Of Vanaheim” is the band’s 7th album and continues the 2nd part of a concept that started in 2009’s “First War Of The World”, telling the tale of the 2nd war of the mythological Aesir / Vanen tribes triggered by the murder of Odin’s friend, the giant Mime. Told along the lines of an audio book with narrated passages amid the thunderous war metal and flowing epic pieces, it’s been done previously by the likes of Manowar and Rhapsody, but “Walls Of Vanaheim” is a very classy release indeed, equal to similar concepts put out by those bands. It’s largely thanks to the superb folk melodies and well as incorporating similarly classical inspirations be it via the symphonic aspects on ‘Mimir’s Head’ to the highly catchy folk fiddle dance of ‘Mimir’s Tod’, backed by orchestral strings which when coupled with the fast double bass drumming give the song an almost power metal feel. Harking back to their roots with fast intricate riffing and screams on ‘Die Bürde des Njörd’ broken mid song by an ambient flute folk piece shows the measure of the band’s musicianship in being able to alternate styles without losing any of the atmosphere but instead adding even more epic passion to the material – wunderbar! I especially liked the melodic black power metal mix of ‘Mit Blitz Und Donner’ complete with pagan horns and catchy folk guitar solos and even if it’s sung entirely in German, I can now see through this excellent release why the band’s name of Black Messiah is a truly befitting one!